Fire Causes Major Damage to Pusateri Excavating

CALCUTTA, Ohio – A fire of undetermined origin Friday afternoon caused major damage to a utility building at Mike Pusateri Excavating, 16363 St. Clair Ave., also injuring firefighters from two departments. 

Calcutta fire Chief Dave McCoy said one of his firefighters suffered third degree burns to his neck, while a firefighter from Liverpool Township, which was called for mutual aid, also suffered what appeared to be third degree burns. They were transported to the hospital and the chief said he expects them to recover.

McCoy estimated the damage to the pole building and its contents at $700,000-plus, saying it is a total loss. He said part of the building contained equipment and part was used for work space.

According to the chief, the call came in around 4 p.m. as a structure fire on St. Clair Avenue and, almost immediately the department learned smoke was showing and it was a fully-involved structure fire a the excavating business.

“At that point, we knew we had something strong,” McCoy said, saying that prompted calls to Glenmoor and Liverpool Township departments for mutual aid. 

Company employees had already left for the day, locking the door, but owner Mike Pusateri was still in his office working when his office worker came racing in.

“He couldn’t figure out why she was in such a big hurry to come back into work and that’s when he looked out and saw smoke,” McCoy said of Pusateri.

About 28 firefighters tackled the blaze.

“The exterior of the building is metal which didn’t allow it to be an inferno until it opened up the roof and finished putting it down through the rafters. It had two fire walls that kept it from spreading to the entire building all at once. When we pulled in, it was already through the roof and the roof had already collapsed,” McCoy said.

About 10 propane tanks were inside the building that blew off. But McCoy said while that fueled the fire “some,” the fire was “already fully involved so it was like a wood stove” when they blew.

One of the owner’s sons used a company excavator to pull down the remainder of the walls, which McCoy said would help speed up the process of reaching any hot spots. 

n addition to the firefighters, McCoy estimated eight to 12 EMS personnel were also on the scene to assist. St. Clair Avenue was blocked to traffic at McGuffy Drive and at McCoy Avenue as firefighters battled the blaze.

Mike Pusateri Excavating has been in operation since 1960, founded by Mike Pusateri Sr. with a dump truck and high lift and today continues to operate with Mike Pusateri Jr. as acting president and the third generation of the Pusateri family added to the roster, according to its website. 

Pictured at top: Damages to this building at Pusateri Excavating in Calcutta were estimated by Calcutta Fire Chief Dave McCoy at more than $700,000 after a fire raged through it Friday afternoon.

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